Shock as '$35 bowl' bought at yard sale is actually $500,000 ancient Chinese artefact

A SMALL porcelain bowl bought at a yard sale for $35 (£25) could sell for up to $500,000 (£360,000).

The unassuming object was bought by a man in the US who had no idea it was a valuable 15th-century Chinese artefact.

The buyer spotted the bowl on sale in Connecticut.

After purchasing it, he became curious and emailed experts at Sotheby's auction house some pictures so they could evaluate it.

They revealed it was an ultra rare Chinese bowl worth anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000.

Angela McAteer, head of Sotheby's Chinese Works of Art Department, told the Associated Press: "It was immediately apparent to both of us that we were looking at something really very, very special.

"The style of painting, the shape of the bowl, even just the color of the blue is quite characteristic of that early, early 15th century period of porcelain."

Only six other bowls like it are known to exist.

The expensive bowl will be auctioned off at Sotheby's Important Chinese Art auction in New York on March 17.

It has a 6.25 inches (16cm) diameter and has blue floral patterns across its white lotus bud shape.

Lots of different flowers adorn the bowl including pomegranate flowers and peonies.

The inside of the bowl has an intricate medallion design and it also features some horns on the outside.

The Sotheby's website describes it as "an exceptional and rare blue and white 'floral' bowl" from the "Ming dynasty, Yongle period".

The Yongle Emperor was the the third Emperor of the Ming dynasty who ruled over China from around 1402 to 1424.

The bowl may have been made for the Yongle court which controlled the design of porcelain objects being made in imperial kilns.

The Yongle court took its pottery very seriously and would have duplicates destroyed or buried so they wouldn't be copied.

That's why these bowls are so rare to find today.

There is said to be a similar one in the British Museum and another in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

It's unclear how the bowl going up for auction came to be in Connecticut.

In other news, rare 16th century armour stolen from the most famous museum in Paris has finally been found 38 years later.

Medieval tunnels have been uncovered by electrical technicians working in a garden in south Wales.

New analysis of the remains of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh has revealed he may have been brutally murdered on the battlefield.

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